My fiancée was sharing my interview on Priestessing, Politics and the Indian Parliament with his colleagues in India yesterday. Suddenly, he realized that some (if not all of them) might see me as delusional, a madwoman or a fake would-be guru (or a combination thereof).
Part of me felt sad, and the other part smiled (I’ll explain why).
For you see – despite being the land of a million goddesses, and the origins of some of the greatest spiritual philosophies in the world, Indian culture at the day-to-day level is strangely disconnected from these ideals – either through a focus upon the ritual form (and not necessarily the spiritual), or through the cynical, hardened eyes of rationalism. There are of course, exceptions, but that tends to be a fair generalization.
Despite Indian philosophical-scriptural exposition on ideas such as – the sanctity of woman and the Feminine Principle, or the idea that we walk as Divine Beings, often unaware of our spiritual inheritance – these are ideas that are disconnected from everyday culture there. Yet such principles are put forward as emblems of Indian heritage and culture, particularly when idealized and interpreted through different cultural perspectives.
Whilst I get the basis for such a reaction to my work and presence, I honestly do not see it as my problem. I thought about what I would feel if someone levied those views to my face – and the answer was — well.. not very much at all..
The baggage, the judgment, the condescension – that’s an issue with the one choosing to perceive my path in a certain way. And remember – perceptions (mine/yours/our) are never accurate reflections of reality (whatever that is).
And I’ve experienced that in mild – and – extreme ways during my pilgrimages in India and Nepal. Even when viewed with suspicion, distrust, ridicule, and at times being bullied by the people there – I have always found that the temples themselves have welcomed me in ways that seem miraculous to others, especially by those who live there.
Despite the harsh challenges, I’ve never allowed that to stop me doing what I’m doing. It’s certainly not a pleasurable experience or one that I consider myself some great martyr for enduring. I see it as part of the work that needs to be done to transmute a particularly rigid manifestation of societal consciousness (the super-ego construct). Just gotta keep on walking.
It’s a choice I made, that I rarely even think about it, in all honesty.
The sadness I do feel about it – and that too seems to be going – is when I consider the extent of spiritual disconnection between the people, the land and its spiritual essence. Just about every saint I adore in the Indian context (and other parts of the world) has been seen as mad, delusional, or fraudulent. And they are better appreciated posthumously, long after their death when society gradually begins to catch up with the vibration these powerful spiritual-in-flesh-vessels bore.
And here’s where the smile comes in, as soon as I thought that through and wrote a reply to my fiancée, I saw this on FB (It’s about a saint I love, whose path comes closest to the way I walk with Kali-Ma – Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa):
“People of his times labeled Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa as a madman. With their limited mind and prejudices, some creatures thought they had a license to judge him. The Paramahamsa was indeed mad but mad for and of the love of Divinity. He was committed to Mata Kali, the All-embracing Mother. He reached the state of perfection in the bhakti path not because of this belief or that faith. Even parrots have faith in their wings, fly wherever they believe seeds and nuts can be found. We wish we had one infinitesimal part of the Parmahamsa’s bhakti. Perfection comes through unconditional love and disinterested performance of action. If you are expecting anything – name and glory, badge and status from your karma, go join the boy-scouts or the marines for now but seek Grace at the earliest convenience. Jai Mata Kali.” ~ Yogi Ananda Saraswathi
**Now if that’s not a sign that the Universe has my back.. I really don’t know what is.
Chin up, eyes forward… and away we go!
Priestess Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD
PS – The interview in question that started all this! 🙂